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Prayer room at UM-Flint sparks clash, Some groups say Muslims were monopolizing space
MLIVE ^ | 05/23/05 | Shena Abercrombie

Posted on 05/25/2005 4:49:55 PM PDT by Pikamax

Prayer room at UM-Flint sparks clash Some groups say Muslims were monopolizing space FLINT THE FLINT JOURNAL FIRST EDITION Monday, May 23, 2005By Shena Abercrombie

FLINT - A room for peaceful reflection and prayer at the University of Michigan-Flint has become anything but.

Instead, Room 386 at the University Center - known as the Meditation Room - is at the heart of a months-long religious dispute between Muslim and non-Muslim students.

The non-Muslims began complaining in November that Muslim students were monopolizing the room and filling the tiny space with religious paraphernalia and anti-Israel literature.

The Muslim students countered that they were being unfairly targeted and appealed to the university for religious tolerance.

"I do think that the current political climate does contribute to Islamophobia," said Bishr Aldabagh, a former UM-Flint Student Government Council president and student commencement speaker.

"The room serves the needs of students from different religions, but I do think that the reaction would have been different if the room was used predominantly by Christians or Jews."

UM-Flint student Zea Miller, 22 of Flint asked the university, in a written petition, to allow a more balanced use of the room, urging it to "whitewash" the walls and remove all religious items - a move that he said caused him to be stalked and harassed.

The university investigated Miller's claims about being harassed and said they were unfounded.

"There are people who feel offended and intimidated being in the Meditation Room or within the presence of artifacts representative of beliefs not their own," Miller said in his petition.

Miller said he was acting on his own, but others feel the same. Miller, a staff member of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center, doesn't belong to any of UM-Flint's four student religious organizations.

The walls of the room, about the size of a storage room, once held posters, Muslim Student Association awards and framed pictures. Prayer rugs and other books also were stored in the room. Muslim students use the space to perform religious practices, such as praying five times a day, as required by their faith.

"I took it upon myself to file the petition; I did this on behalf of others who were afraid to," Miller said. "It was not bigoted. I would have done this against any group who usurped the room. Now, at every move I'm being accused of anti-Muslim behavior. I am not anti-Muslim."

Some UM-Flint students appear unaware of the dispute or regard it as old news. But the other student religious groups weigh in on both sides.

"We don't have a problem sharing that room," said Tom Coy, a member of Students Defending Christian Principles. "(Miller) is using that as a basis for his own intolerance."

The Hillel Student Organization, a predominately Jewish group, issued an open letter supporting Miller's petition.

"The room is really important to us also, (and) we don't feel comfortable using it the way it is right now," said Katie Segal, 20, president of Hillel. "The inside and outside had a lot of anti-Zionist propaganda and pictures and paraphernalia."

Segal said one of her organization's members had discussed the matter with members of MSA.

"The MSA group had a lot of pro-Palestinian (literature) that I was not bothered by. It was the anti-Zionist stuff," Segal said.

"There were news articles, posters and pamphlets. It was a very unfriendly place, (so) we just walked away and went to a different room. I understand people who frequent the room need certain supplies to pray or meditate. I was in favor of the white washing."

Segal said the suggestion of "Islamophobia" simply was not true.

"I think they're going to use that as their cover," she said.

Muslim student leaders said they've been fair to others and hadn't gotten any complaints.

"(We) have displayed no religious hostility toward any other faith, and, on the contrary, religious groups have interacted with complete harmony," said Aldabagh, of the Muslim Student Association.

New rules are posted outside the room in an attempt by school leaders to quell the tension between the two sides.

The new guidelines for the room went up in March.

"Anyone can go there to pray or (do) what they want," university spokeswoman Jennifer Hogan said. "It's not set up for one religion in particular.

"In the past, our Muslim Student Association was using the room. What happened is, they'd pray a couple times a day, which is their faith, and they'd leave behind certain religious artifacts. So new guidelines were drawn up. Everyone is abiding by those guidelines."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Michigan
KEYWORDS: bacon; baconlettucetomato; cary; freeblts; muslimstudents; senthemtoallahpronto

1 posted on 05/25/2005 4:49:55 PM PDT by Pikamax
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To: Pikamax

How soon before Michigan is under Sharia law?

2 posted on 05/25/2005 4:52:33 PM PDT by LibFreeOrDie (L'chaim!)
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To: Pikamax

Muslim's are attacking gays..ROTFALMAO

3 posted on 05/25/2005 4:52:36 PM PDT by AZConcervative
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To: Pikamax; All

DUH Not suprise NOt suprise at all think about it I think Muslums could take more space than Jews or Christians

You have put your mat down Bow turn your head five times to face of Mecca

Yeah that take space

4 posted on 05/25/2005 4:53:28 PM PDT by SevenofNine (Not everybody in, it for truth, justice, and the American way,"=Det Lennie Briscoe)
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To: Pikamax

Oi vay, it's very simple, either it is a MEDITATION ROOM
for all

or you set up prayer rooms for all the different groups

why does it take a woman to figure this out


5 posted on 05/25/2005 4:53:41 PM PDT by littlelilac
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To: Pikamax

Mooslimes come in two flavors:

1. Kill the infidels!

2. How dare you not allow us to kill you. We're being persecuted!!!

6 posted on 05/25/2005 5:02:17 PM PDT by Alouette (The only thing learned from history is that nobody ever learns from history.)
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To: Pikamax

So on one side we have Christians and Muslims and on the other side Jews and Gays. They're fighting over use of a designated meditation (store) room in a university library...wasn't this a UPN pilot about two weeks ago?

7 posted on 05/25/2005 5:22:33 PM PDT by Natchez Hawk ("April 14th: Hangman's Eve")
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To: Natchez Hawk; cardinal4

Hmmmmm. University of Michigan - Flint? Isn't that Michael Moore's school (can't call it his alma mater since he forgot to graduate)? Twenty Moslems in the "meditation space": monopolizing space. One Michael Moore in the "meditation space": monopolizing space.

8 posted on 05/25/2005 5:28:44 PM PDT by Ax (You've got to hand it to Venus de Milo.)
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Comment #9 Removed by Moderator

To: Uhhuh35; cardinal4

No can do. My HAZMAT suit is in the dry cleaners.

10 posted on 05/25/2005 5:47:05 PM PDT by Ax (You've got to hand it to Venus de Milo.)
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To: Pikamax
Alright... as a compromise, the Buddhist monks will take over the room. :)
11 posted on 05/25/2005 5:51:48 PM PDT by Random Nonsense
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To: Pikamax

Go in there with a bucket of White paint and a 4 inch brush and paint crosses on the wall every day. If they can hang pictures and frames so can You. If they destroy your crosses paint them again. Paint the star of David if you are Jewish, you have as much right as they. Leave your Yamulka in the corner. If they destroy yours destroy theirs.

12 posted on 05/25/2005 5:52:50 PM PDT by sgtbono2002
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To: Pikamax

Time to nip this in the bud. These Muslim students should be informed that in America, they will be responsible for their own actions. They will not be taken seriously if they whine about persecution every time they have a conflict. We don't need a bunch of Muslim Jesse/Michael Jacksons.

13 posted on 05/25/2005 6:40:13 PM PDT by popdonnelly
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